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How to Care for Silver Jewelry

How to Prevent Silver Jewelry from Tarnish

Silver jewelry has a tendency to tarnish and darken its color, especially when worn daily or in warmer temperatures. But why is that so? The dark tarnishing, often almost black, is caused by the silver sulfide contained within the silver. Depending on the amount of hydrogen sulfide contained in the environment of the silver, the silver jewelry will tarnish at a respective rate. Perspiration is another contributing factor – the amount and composition of the wearer’s sweat has an impact on the rate at which the silver tarnishes.

Sweat is composed of numerous acids and water. Add hormones and circumstances of life like nutrition of the person wearing the jewelry and the result is a mixture which is slightly acidic and breaks down the silver sulfide contained in silver, causing a reaction which ends up tarnishing and turning the silver a black color. This process is accelerated during high temperatures which promote perspiration.

Silver can be coated, for example with rhodium, to prevent or slow down the tarnishing process. A side effect of rhodium-plating silver is the fact that it slightly alters the color of silver, though this is actually liked or even preferred by many buyers of jewelry.

Another method of protecting silver is to coat it with thin layers of varnish, which aim to slow down the tarnishing process.

Silver alloys are yet another way to prevent and slow down tarnishing. 925 Sterling Silver is one  example of a silver alloy, i.e. an alloy which contains 925 parts silver out of 1000 parts. Usually copper is used in this alloy because it adds hardness; silver is known to be a rather soft metal.

When looking for an alloy which does not tarnish at all, palladium must be added to the silver in a ratio of 700 parts silver and 300 parts palladium. This alloy is only made to order and carries a higher sales prices, as palladium itself is comparatively expensive.

 

Cleaning of Tarnished Silver Jewelry

Mechanical Cleaning

Silver can be cleaned with special chemically treated polishing cloths, which remove tarnish. Special microfiber cloths for silver cleaning are also available.

 

Chemical Cleaning

If you don’t like to clean your silver jewelry yourself, you may chose to have it cleaned professionally. A jeweler will submerge the tarnished piece of silver jewelry in a bath of various chemicals. Most of the time these include Thiourea, a highly toxic chemical, which must be rinsed off thoroughly to avoid any contact with skin.

 

Electrolytic Cleaning

With electrolytic cleaning, the silver is doused in a water bath after is has been wrapped in aluminium foil. Then the water bath is warmed – not boiled or heated, before citric acid, salt, and baking soda is added. This mixture causes a reconversion of the silver sulfide and hydrogen sulfide, and removes the tarnish. Of course, this method can only be used with waterproof pieces of jewelry; watches, for example, are not suitable for this method.

 

Proper Storage of Silver Jewelry

Silver likes to be stored airtight and dry. Ideally, one would use designated jewelry cases which are padded and offer closed compartments for silver jewelry, thus preventing the silver to get in contact and react with the hydrogen sulfide in air.

 

Proper Care

If you properly and regularly clean your jewelry, you will enjoy its beauty for many years to come.

Most “problems”, such as dirt and damages can be prevented:

Never wear your jewelry doing household chores, like cleaning or washing dishes, or tougher jobs like gardening. Sweat can harm your jewelry, so it should not be worn during exercise and sports. Even soap and shampoo can be harmful to your precious jewelry, so it is advisable to take it off before stepping into the shower.

Under no circumstances should jewelry be worn on a tanning bed, while sun tanning, or even in a sauna.

Jewelry made of gold, silver, pearls, or other precious gems and stones should never get in contact with chlorine or salt water, so you should avoid wearing it when going swimming.

When putting on makeup or doing your hair, you should also avoid wearing jewelry, because the ingredients in perfume, creams, sprays, hairspray, and makeup can react negatively.

Contact with oils and fats, like hand creams or cooking oils, should also be avoided.

Use a soft cloth to clean your jewelry. Wiping your piece of jewelry with a microfiber cloth is often sufficient to remove light dirt. You should always clean your jewelry pieces individually to prevent gemstones from rubbing against each other and causing irreversible damage or breaking.

Don’t use cleaning products or solutions as the chemicals found in these can harm precious metals or pearls. Gems stones usually lose their luster, irreversibly, when they come in contact with these products.

 

Gentle Cleaning is the Best Choice

To prevent dirt and discoloration it is usually sufficient to put the silver in a cleaning bath.

A rub down with a special silver cleaning cloth also yields visible results.

If the silver piece is satin-finished or matte, it can be cleaned with a special brush or sponge. In this case, it is important to note the texture of the piece and to not brush against it or to use too much pressure.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

How to Care for Silver Jewelry

How to Prevent Silver Jewelry from Tarnish

Silver jewelry has a tendency to tarnish and darken its color, especially when worn daily or in warmer temperatures. But why is that so? The dark tarnishing, often almost black, is caused by the silver sulfide contained within the silver. Depending on the amount of hydrogen sulfide contained in the environment of the silver, the silver jewelry will tarnish at a respective rate. Perspiration is another contributing factor – the amount and composition of the wearer’s sweat has an impact on the rate at which the silver tarnishes.

Sweat is composed of numerous acids and water. Add hormones and circumstances of life like nutrition of the person wearing the jewelry and the result is a mixture which is slightly acidic and breaks down the silver sulfide contained in silver, causing a reaction which ends up tarnishing and turning the silver a black color. This process is accelerated during high temperatures which promote perspiration.

Silver can be coated, for example with rhodium, to prevent or slow down the tarnishing process. A side effect of rhodium-plating silver is the fact that it slightly alters the color of silver, though this is actually liked or even preferred by many buyers of jewelry.

Another method of protecting silver is to coat it with thin layers of varnish, which aim to slow down the tarnishing process.

Silver alloys are yet another way to prevent and slow down tarnishing. 925 Sterling Silver is one  example of a silver alloy, i.e. an alloy which contains 925 parts silver out of 1000 parts. Usually copper is used in this alloy because it adds hardness; silver is known to be a rather soft metal.

When looking for an alloy which does not tarnish at all, palladium must be added to the silver in a ratio of 700 parts silver and 300 parts palladium. This alloy is only made to order and carries a higher sales prices, as palladium itself is comparatively expensive.

 

Cleaning of Tarnished Silver Jewelry

Mechanical Cleaning

Silver can be cleaned with special chemically treated polishing cloths, which remove tarnish. Special microfiber cloths for silver cleaning are also available.

 

Chemical Cleaning

If you don’t like to clean your silver jewelry yourself, you may chose to have it cleaned professionally. A jeweler will submerge the tarnished piece of silver jewelry in a bath of various chemicals. Most of the time these include Thiourea, a highly toxic chemical, which must be rinsed off thoroughly to avoid any contact with skin.

 

Electrolytic Cleaning

With electrolytic cleaning, the silver is doused in a water bath after is has been wrapped in aluminium foil. Then the water bath is warmed – not boiled or heated, before citric acid, salt, and baking soda is added. This mixture causes a reconversion of the silver sulfide and hydrogen sulfide, and removes the tarnish. Of course, this method can only be used with waterproof pieces of jewelry; watches, for example, are not suitable for this method.

 

Proper Storage of Silver Jewelry

Silver likes to be stored airtight and dry. Ideally, one would use designated jewelry cases which are padded and offer closed compartments for silver jewelry, thus preventing the silver to get in contact and react with the hydrogen sulfide in air.

 

Proper Care

If you properly and regularly clean your jewelry, you will enjoy its beauty for many years to come.

Most “problems”, such as dirt and damages can be prevented:

Never wear your jewelry doing household chores, like cleaning or washing dishes, or tougher jobs like gardening. Sweat can harm your jewelry, so it should not be worn during exercise and sports. Even soap and shampoo can be harmful to your precious jewelry, so it is advisable to take it off before stepping into the shower.

Under no circumstances should jewelry be worn on a tanning bed, while sun tanning, or even in a sauna.

Jewelry made of gold, silver, pearls, or other precious gems and stones should never get in contact with chlorine or salt water, so you should avoid wearing it when going swimming.

When putting on makeup or doing your hair, you should also avoid wearing jewelry, because the ingredients in perfume, creams, sprays, hairspray, and makeup can react negatively.

Contact with oils and fats, like hand creams or cooking oils, should also be avoided.

Use a soft cloth to clean your jewelry. Wiping your piece of jewelry with a microfiber cloth is often sufficient to remove light dirt. You should always clean your jewelry pieces individually to prevent gemstones from rubbing against each other and causing irreversible damage or breaking.

Don’t use cleaning products or solutions as the chemicals found in these can harm precious metals or pearls. Gems stones usually lose their luster, irreversibly, when they come in contact with these products.

 

Gentle Cleaning is the Best Choice

To prevent dirt and discoloration it is usually sufficient to put the silver in a cleaning bath.

A rub down with a special silver cleaning cloth also yields visible results.

If the silver piece is satin-finished or matte, it can be cleaned with a special brush or sponge. In this case, it is important to note the texture of the piece and to not brush against it or to use too much pressure.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]